The Community First Oxfordshire story

CFO’s celebrates its centenary in 2020 – A Century of Supporting Communities takes you on a trip through the last 100 years!

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CFO is a community development charity which helps communities and individuals to identify issues that affect them and find their own solutions. We support and advise volunteer-led actions in Oxfordshire, helping hundreds of volunteers fulfil many roles in their communities. We support the principles of Asset-based Community Development. We think that stronger, more sustainable communities are built using the skills and gifts that people already have.

The values and practice of CFO are rooted in human rights, social justice, and respect for diversity. In our projects we seek to achieve inclusion, remove barriers to involvement, and challenge racism and discrimination.

CFO believes that equality and inclusion create strong, creative, and dynamic places to live and work. We have developed an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to hold ourselves accountable to those values and allow for an ongoing appraisal of how they can be better embedded in CFO’s community work and working practices.

CFO Vision: To create strong, diverse, inclusive, and thriving communities.


Mission: Supporting communities to find solutions to their planning, housing, social action, and service needs. Promoting positive change for all.


Asset-Based Community Development: ABCD is a bottom-up way of strengthening communities through recognising, identifying and harnessing existing ‘assets’ (i.e. things like skills, knowledge, capacity, resources, experience or enthusiasm) that individuals and communities have which can help to strengthen and improve things locally. Instead of looking at what a community needs or lacks, the approach focuses on utilising the ‘assets’ that are already there.


Strategic Objectives

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Community Planning and Action

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Asset Based Community Development

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How we can help

  • Knowledge and practical experience: design and management of quality projects
  • Contacts: deep reach into networks of voluntary organisations and communities
  • Track record: communities and the statutory sector know we get results
  • Stakeholder management: with the community, statutory and private sectors
  • Partnership working: collaboration is at the heart of our work
  • Best practice: advice drawn from evidence of ‘what works’ in Oxfordshire and beyond
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Our Staff

Face of Tom McCulloch

Tom McCulloch

Joint CEO

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Tom is CFO’s joint Chief Executive. He has a Doctorate from the London School of Economics and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Rural Development. Tom also leads on CFO’s housing, infrastructure and Neighbourhood Planning (NP) activity. He has helped build CFO into the ‘go to’ local organisation for communities seeking high quality support throughout the NP process. This is underpinned by excellent relationships with Local Authorities. Tom is a former board member of the Cherwell Community Land Trust and has led recent research on social and community infrastructure and best practice in ‘placemaking’ on new housing developments for Cherwell District and South and Vale District Councils.

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Face of Emily Lewis-Edwards

Emily Lewis-Edwards

Joint CEO

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Emily is Joint CEO of CFO. She has worked with rural and urban communities for a number of years, supporting the County’s community transport sector to thrive. She leads on placemaking projects in new developments at Heyford Park and Graven Hill. She also leads on our health and ageing work such as the Dementia Friendly Communities project. She has a Post Graduate Certificate in transport planning and a BA in development studies. She is a member of the Oxford Strategic Partnership.

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Face of Sue Hunt

Sue Hunt

Oil Scheme Administrator & Office Manager

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Sue has worked in the UK and Australia as customer services manager for a number of businesses. She manages our Oil Buying Scheme and has general office management responsibilities.

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Face of Tessa Hall

Tessa Hall

Community Buildings and Retail Adviser

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Tessa previously worked for the Community Council for Berkshire for 10 years, teaching and putting on training events, managing funding for community projects, and carrying out consultation events. More recently, she has helped communities in West Berkshire develop Parish Plans and supported them to carry out projects from the plans. She has been working with Thatcham Town Council to get their Parish Plan refresh adopted by West Berkshire Council and to reconnect with all their amazing volunteers after all the hard work of producing their plan. Tessa likes walking, gardening, reading and loves singing, co-leading a community choir in Newbury.

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Face of Rachel Woods

Rachel Woods

Community Connector

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Rachel Woods is the lead for Community Led Planning Services and training to help strengthen social infrastructure for communities across Oxfordshire, based on ABCD principles and practice. Her portfolio includes working with the statutory, education, NGO and voluntary sectors in national, regional and local community contexts as a project manager, trainer and resource developer. She has originated and implemented over twenty bespoke education programmes and resources for therapeutic outdoor and arts-based initiatives for organisations and charities, in both urban and rural contexts. A feature of her approach to facilitating community led development and social action, is using creative processes to enable purposeful collaborative engagement and intergenerational reflection.

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Face of Lesley Montague

Lesley Montague

Community Development Worker - Heyford Park

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Lesley is the Community Development Worker for the Heyford Park Community Development Partnership (CFO, Cherwell District Council and Dorchester Living), based at Upper Heyford, She is supporting residents to develop a vibrant and self-sustaining community. Previously, Lesley has worked with vulnerable young people and adults in a variety of settings. She is a graduate of Ruskin College and volunteers in her local community.

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Face of Fiona Brown

Fiona Brown

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Fiona is the Communities Lead at Collaborative Housing providing front line support to community-led housing groups across the Thames Valley. She has over 30 years’ experience in the management and delivery of affordable housing through Housing Associations and Local Authorities. She is an accredited CLH Advisor through the Institute of Housing.

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Face of Stephen Mckenna

Stephen Mckenna

Community Planning Officer

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Stephen has worked in the field of planning and development for over 30 years, working on major regeneration schemes through to small community projects. As a qualified Chartered Town Planner and a Chartered Surveyor working in the development process from strategy through to implementation, Stephen has in depth knowledge of the planning system. He has worked in both the public and private sector advising on development management and policy and has acted an expert witness in many planning appeals. More recently he has worked for a major charity working with communities across the country, working as a bridge between developers, landowners and communities. He is also an elected Borough Councillor in Surrey sitting on the Planning Committee.

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Face of Kay Sentance

Kay Sentance

Community Development Worker

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Kay has two roles at CFO. She leads on the Woodstock Community Development Project and is the early-stage group lead for Collaborative Housing, the support service community-led housing in the Thames Valley (hosted by CFO). Kay’s formal training and degree is in interior Architecture, which she studied in Germany. She has over 25 years experience of working with communities and youth work through theatre productions,  local history exhibitions and public art commissions. On a grassroots level, Kay has initiated intersocial art-spaces,  exploring how communities relate to the space and people they encounter. These spaces have been in launderettes, take-aways and on buses. Kay has also been an elected parish councillor for 9 years. She is an active member of the Soha scrutiny committee, a member of Thame CLT, and has been involved with community-led housing for more than 10 years.

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Our Board of Trustees

Jon Bright

Edward Dowler


Gill Bindoff


Malcolm Taylor


Andrew McHugh

Natasha Eliot

Our Patrons

Jonathan Reuvid


Catherine Bearder


Celia Collett


Dr J V Sharp

Our partners and stakeholders